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New Senate Cyber Bill No Better Than Last Version

Michelle Richardson,
Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office
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June 29, 2012

Yesterday, Republican Senators introduced a rewrite of their cybersecurity bill, known as SECURE IT. Advocates registered their opposition to the bill last month and its CISPA-like expansion of military authority to collect sensitive information on Americans’ internet use.

Despite claims the contrary, the new bill has not been substantially amended and still does not meaningfully limit the amount or type of information that the government can collect from companies that hold very private and personal data. Most importantly,

• SECURE IT still allows companies to give sensitive American information directly to the National Security Agency and other military agencies. The ACLU has long argued, and even the Obama administration agrees: domestic cybersecurity programs must be run by civilian agencies.
• The bill lacks any requirement that companies first remove personally identifiable information unrelated to cybersecurity from what they share with each other or the government. That’s right – companies that have access to what we buy, what we read, and where we go don’t even have to attempt to suppress identifying information.
• SECURE IT-collected information can be used by the government not only for cybersecurity purposes, but for undefined national security purposes and to prosecute a long list of crimes unrelated to cybersecurity.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised cybersecurity will be brought to the floor in July. So it looks like we’ll see a vote in the next few weeks. Now’s the time to contact your Senators and tell them to vote against any legislation that lets the government start cyber spying!

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